Mergers and Acquisitions: TI Looks to Snatch Up Maxim

BloombergBusiness is reporting rumors that Texas Instruments is in talks to acquire Maxim Integrated. Both companies have declined to respond to this leaked information. Earlier this year there were rumors that the two companies had been in talks in 2014 that didn’t result with an agreement.

We find it interesting that the article mentions Maxim doesn’t need to scale — yet we often find Maxim parts in short supply. If TI were to acquire the company this could change for some Maxium parts. Still, this move looks a lot like TI trying to bolster its hold on the portions of the analog chip market which both companies currently occupy.

Already this year we’ve seen Dialog acquire Atmel, Avago acquire Broadcom, and the merger agreement between Freescale and NXP. We probably missed a few, and this has us wonder who is next. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

[Thanks Kumar]

2015 Hackaday Prize Presentation Draws Near

The judges of the 2015 Hackaday Prize are hard at work right now to choose the five finalists who will receive the top prizes for the 2015 Hackaday Prize. The Judges for the Best Product have finished their work, and the announcements for all of these amazing engineering projects is just around the corner. We’ll be making the announcement in front of a live audience at the Hackaday SuperConference in just two weeks!

It has been amazing to see hundreds of people from the Hackaday Community who took time out of their lives to build something that matters and to document it as their entry. This has far-reaching benefits that will echo for years to come. No matter where your project finishes, standing up and saying “here’s something I built from an idea I had” is an amazing thing. Great work!

We are profoundly thankful for the visionary companies that sponsored the 2015 Hackaday Prize. Atmel, Freescale, Microchip, Mouser, and Texas Instruments made so much of this year’s prize possible. They recognize what it means to use Open Design; a philosophy that lets talented people pass on their skills by their engineering examples.

A big part of their support this year has gone to hosting live events. Hackaday Prize Worldwide was held in Chicago, Mumbai, Toronto, New York, Bangalore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Shenzhen, New Delhi, Boston, Washington DC, Zurich, and Berlin. Their involvement continues with the presentation planned on Saturday November 14th at the Hackaday SuperConference.

Mouser Electronics has partnered with Grant Imahara of MythBusters fame. Grant is a talented roboticist who will have a talk and Q&A session at the SuperCon about his career. Microchip is giving away [Lucio Di Jasio’s] new book on microcontrollers to conference attendees. Atmel leapt at the opportunity to send development hardware for [Colin O’Flynn’s] workshop (he took Second Place in the 2014 Hackaday Prize), helping to lower the workshop cost for the participants.

Of course, it’s not just the events that were possible due to these sponsorship. Along with Supplyframe who presents the Hackaday Prize each year, these sponsors made the total prize package of about $500,000 a reality. It’s not everyday you can give away a trip into space as a Grand Prize and $100,000 for the Best Product. This is an amazing way to support the hardware ideals we live by and we applaud our sponsors for their meaningful involvement.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Amazing Workshops of the SuperCon

We have been amazed by all of the talented people who submitted workshop proposals for the Hackaday SuperConference. With proposals made, and invitations accepted it’s time to announce the full slate of workshops you’ll find at this epic event.

For those just tuning in, Hackaday will host the hardware con you’ve been waiting for on November 14th and 15th at DogPatch Studios in San Francisco. The gorgeous venue will be packed with amazing people, both presenters and attendees. A single talk track will run the entire weekend while multiple workshops run on a different floor.

Put yourself in the middle of it all and be amazed by all we have in store. Apply for your ticket now!

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Why You Need to Be at the Hackaday SuperConference

Hackaday’s first ever SuperConference is November 14th and 15th. Imagine a hardware conference that’s actually about hardware creation, packed with the most talented people – both as attendees and presenters. We are taking over Dogpatch Studios in San Francisco for the event that’s sure to change your engineering life. Apply Now for your tickets.

This isn’t hype. Our excitement is well founded, and especially so in this case. Here’s why:

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Coke-Propane Rocket Blasts Off Without Ignition

Everyone’s seen the Diet Coke and Mentos “experiment” that ends in a brown eruption. But have you seen the Coke and Propane experiment insanity that results in a rocket launch? As [Itay] pointed out when he sent us the tip, this doesn’t need to be lit. The simple act of turning the bottle upside down starts a powerful reaction without any ignition.

coke-propane-rocket-thumbOf course it’s the how of this that tickles our brains, but let’s finish the setup. This starts with a bottle of Coke which is about 3/4 full. The head space is displaced by spraying propane into the bottle; propane is heavier than air. All that’s left is to turn the bottle upside down and pray it doesn’t smack anyone in the noggin as it takes off.

In trying to find an explanation for this phenomenon we came across a plausible answer on the Chemistry StackExchange. It points to the Mentos phenomenon combined with the temperature differential caused by the very cold propane. The answering user theorizes that tiny ice crystals form and when the bottle is turned upside down the cold propane and micro crystals rise through the warmer soda acting as a much more rapid catalyst than Mentos alone. Of course this is just a theory so please share your own ideas below.

We thought the folks who microwave stuff outside of a microwave enclosure had their fill of danger but this videos is also one of theirs. It should be no surprise that they also tried the experiment with an ignition source. That video is found after the break and should immediately convince you to never try any of this yourself.

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WiFi Fob Acquaints OLED with ESP

When you think of WiFi in projects it’s easy to get into the rut of assuming the goal is to add WiFi to something. This particular build actually brings WiFi awareness to you, in terms of sniffing what’s going on with the signals around you and displaying them for instant feedback.

[0miker0] is working on the project as his entry in the Square Inch Project. It’s an adapter board that has a footprint for the 2×4 pin header of an ESP8266-01 module, and hosts the components and solder pads for a 128×64 OLED display. These are becoming rather ubiquitous and it’s not hard to figure out why. They’re relatively inexpensive, low-power, high-contrast, and require very few support components. From the schematic in the GitHub Repo it looks like 5 resistors and 7 caps.

The video below shows off two firmware modes so far. The first is an AP scan that reads out some information, the second is a weather-display program. Anyone who’s worked with the ESP modules knows that they have the potential to gather all kinds of data about WiFi signals — one of our favorite demos of this is when [cnlohr] used it to create a 3d light painted map of his WiFi signal strength. Chuck a rechargeable LiPo on this thing, tweak the example code for your needs, and you have a new gadget for wardriving-nouveau.

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Random Parcel Launches Steganographic Compulsion

A mysterious CD arrives in the mail with a weird handwritten code on it. What should you do? Put it in the computer and play the thing, of course!

Some might be screaming at their screens right now… this is how modern horror films start and before you know it the undead are lurking behind you waiting to strike. Seasonal thrills aside, this is turning into an involved community effort to solve the puzzle. [Johny] published the video and posted a thread on reddit.

We ran a similar augmented reality game to launch the 2014 Hackaday Prize solved by a dedicated group of hackers. It’s really hard to design puzzles that won’t be immediately solved but can eventually be solved with technology and a few mental leaps. When we come across one of these extremely clever puzzles, we take note.

This has all the hallmarks of a good time. The audio spectrogram shows hidden data embedded in the file — a technique known as steganography. There are some real contortions to make meaning from this. When you’re looking for a solution any little hit of a pattern feels like you’ve found something. But searching for the decrypted string yields a YouTube video with the same name; we wonder if they’ve tried to recover steganographic data from that source?

[Johny] mentions that this parcel was unsolicited and that people have suggested it’s a threat or something non-sensical in its entirety. We’re hoping it’s a publicity stunt and we’re all disappointed in the end, because solving the thing is the best part and publicity wouldn’t work if there was no solution.

The bright minds of the Hackaday community should be the ones who actually solve this. So get to work and let us know what you figure out!